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Lost in the Fog faces surgery to remove suspected cancerous growth.
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Skip Dickstein

Lost in the Fog to Undergo Tests Friday

Doctors at the University of California-Davis veterinary school will run extensive tests on Lost in the Fog Friday in order to determine whether they will perform surgery to remove what is believed to be a cancerous mass from his spleen. If the disease has not spread, doctors are planning to operate on the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter next week. Through a stomach sonogram, doctors found the mass in Lost in the Fog's spleen.

A biopsy was performed on Lost in the Fog Tuesday, two days after his trainer, Greg Gilchrist, brought the horse from his San Francisco base to the medical center an hour away. Gilchrist had found Lost in the Fog in discomfort Sunday and took him to Davis as a precautionary measure. The horse was being treated for a mild case of colic. But the biopsy showed what doctors believe to be a cancerous mass.

Gilchrist said that preliminary tests indicated that the lymphoma appears to be confined to the spleen. Lost in the Fog has won just one of his three starts this year, and Gilchrist had originally thought that quarter cracks were the culprits for the champion's sub-par efforts. "It turns out he's been running with this thing inside him this year," the trainer said. "It shows you what kind of warrior this horse is."

Gilchrist added that owner Harry Aleo is extremely concerned about his star, and that "We will do anything we can for the horse. It's almost a Barbaro-type situation."

The trainer noted that doctors have said surgery will likely be necessary for the horse to have a chance at a full, normal life. This type of operation is uncommon, and Gilchrist said they were looking for the best possible surgeon.

On Friday, a miniature camera will be inserted into the horse's abdomen to check for further signs of cancer, a disease that is relatively rare in horses,according to Dr. Gary Magdesian, chief of equine medicine at UCD's large animal clinic.

At roughly 37 by 25 centimeters (14-1/2 by 10 inches in circumference), the tumor is the size of a football, according to Magdesian.

"A horse can live a normal life without its spleen, (but) removing it is quite challenging," Magdesian said.

A large organ that usually measures about 18 inches long, the equine spleen serves many purposes and is integral to a horse's ability to race. Because the spleen is a reservoir of red blood cells, horses can contract their spleens to push up to 50% more oxygen into their bloodstream, giving them a burst of energy.

"We're looking everywhere around the world for the best possible surgeon, someone that may have expertise in this," Gilchrist said. "I'm approaching this no different than if this was my son or my father."

Lost in the Fog captured the imagination of race fans across North America last year when he made seven cross-country trips and won eight stakes, including the King's Bishop (gr. I). Lost in the Fog has won 11 of 14 starts and earned $978,099.